The first time I parented solo it was brilliant. Vikki had gone on holiday, I had taken a week off work, and I knew exactly how long I would need to parent solo for. No matter how difficult things got, I knew reinforcements would arrive in a few short days. Me and the kids had fun, I had time and the patience to complete chores, and I was able to think every time I needed to react to the kids’ behaviour. If that was the Ying, then the situation I find myself in now would most definitely be the Yang.
Father’s Day is right around the corner and that means it’s time to start thinking about what to get for that special guy. Dad deserves much more than just another tie, but finding the right thing is much more complicated than it might seem. These are some tips on what the dad in your life could actually use and will definitely appreciate.
I very much used to be of the opinion that ‘my house, my rules’ was sacrosanct. I didn’t care what you let your child do in your house, when they were in mine they followed my rules. You may have let your child draw all over your walls, good for you. Not in my house. You may have let your child jump all over your furniture, kudos. Not in my house. You may have liked to feed your children Easter Eggs for dinner, I bet they loved you. Not in my house. But now, I’m starting to disagree with myself. I’ve started adding caveats, and now it’s more like: ‘My house, my rules, unless…’ ‘Your house, your rules, except when…’
I find myself in a bit of a quandary, with some huge decisions to make ahead of me. A lot of what I choose depends on the charity, and availability of others, but ultimately I have to make a decision and go with it. But it’s not that easy. There are lives at stake: the wellbeing of two lovely little children, the future of my career, and the mental health of the woman I love.
One look at the Samuel Windsor range and you’ll realise that it’s just stylish clothes, tailored well, at great prices. There’s no pomposity, or self grandeur, and I for one am planning to use it as my main source of clothing from now on. Of course I’ll keep my “comfy” clothes, but they’ll be saved for those days, those rainy days when you can’t be bothered to even pick the Coco-Pop from your chin kind of days. Only then will the 8 year old tracksuit bottoms and stained t-shirt make an appearance, and they’ll become the exception and not the norm.
The reason you train is to get better, bigger, stronger, faster, or essentially improve on who you are today. The training you put in, and the nutrition you use to support that, will directly impact on how fast – or whether – you achieve your goals. If you eat right for your goal but don’t train appropriately you will never achieve it; conversely if you train right but don’t eat appropriately you may make progress but it will never be as effective as doing them both together. Supplementation supports that effort and makes it that little bit simpler to achieve your goals. It doesn’t replace the need for an effective nutrition plan, but it does supplement it (seems obvious doesn’t it). For example, creatine is a proven combination of the amino acids arginine, glycine and methionine that is stored in muscles and converted into phosphocreatine which is then used as energy. It is one of the most comprehensively proven supplements for improved performance; the optimum amount is 5g before training which you could quite easily get from eating 2.5lbs of red meat. Now I like a good steak or burger, but 2.5lbs is not possible to eat an hour before training so I would use a creatine supplement supplying me with the 5g of creatine without the digestive nightmare. This is the beauty of supplementation.
I’ve been blogging now – albeit part time and less than whole heartedly – for just about three years* and I’ve been using social media for just a little longer. You’d think I would know the etiquette by now, but just when I think I have it nailed I learn something new, or I realise that I’ve been doing things incorrectly all along. That’s why I love posts like Tim’s The 7 Don’ts of Social Media Etiquette For Bloggers. Some extremely valid points that, quite refreshingly, I’m not guilty of; but it did get me thinking, what am I guilty of that really isn’t cricket? Well in a twist to conventional blogging tradition, rather than preach to you lot about what you should be doing, I’m going to tell you what I’m doing wrong. It will probably ignite a forest fire of paranoia and I’ll almost certainly lose some followers, but let me reassure you the things I list below don’t apply to you I’m not really that malicious. I use them on other people, not you, you’re special.
“What was the best bit about Easter for you Olivia?”
“That the chocolate was yummy, and I got to do mummy’s makeup. I’ve still got 2 Easter eggs left!!”
“What was the best bit about Easter for you George?”
“Going on the Easter trail, and I loved my Easter egg and Buttons. I left 4 Chocolate Buttons for dinner and I had 4 pieces of toast and a frozen yoghurt.”
I’ve always loved science. I’m constantly astonished by developments in the scientific arena, from surgical break-throughs to technological advances; imagine my joy then when my daughter came home from school saying how much she loved her science lessons! I have her teacher to thank, when Olivia came home she said it was the teacher’s enthusiasm that became infectious and instilled a real sense of fun for her. Teaching win! Plus it’s British Science Week all this week. You’ll see a badge in my sidebar showing the hashtag #BSW16. Please check it out for inspiration and events that are happening to promote science across the nation all this week.
In 2013 life expectancy in the United Kingdom was calculated at approximately 81 years. So I’m 43% of the way through my life and I think I’m due a midlife crisis, but do you know what? I think I’ve just had mine. The condition, first coined by Elliott Jaques referring to a critical phase in a person’s life during the forties to early sixties based on periods of transition, has very quickly morphed into a comb over wearing man suddenly buying a completely impractical sports car and desperately trying to win the attention of young girls (over the age of 18 of course) with embarrassingly outdated ‘moves’. The Telegraph listed 40 of the most common signs you are having a midlife crisis and I’m interested how many of these you can tick off already. I’d say more than 50% and you’re in full midlife crisis.
I’ve loved animation ever since I was a little boy, fascinated by the cartoons I used to watch and in awe of the stop motion animation that Tony Hart introduced me to. I entered a competition to win a stop motion camera and lost, then an angel named Lorraine sent me one that she was about to throw away. I entered the competition to get my daughter into animation as she had become equally amazed by the likes of Shaun the Sheep and Wallace and Gromit, and it wasn’t until I told her how cartoons were made that she could truly appreciate the work that goes into them. By winning a stop camera she could both understand the hard work that is needed and ignite her imagination.
It’s been no secret that it’s taken longer for me to bond with him than it did my daughter, at one point I even regretted ever conceiving him! It wasn’t until I realised that I was merely reflecting my own issues onto him and using him as an excuse for my feelings that I learned how to love him. So for his fourth birthday, here are four things I’ve realised I had to change about myself.
I wonder why you started blogging? What was it that made you decide to share your personal life online for all to read? There’s a meme that reads: “There was a time when people wrote everything in diaries and would get angry if anyone read it, but now people write online and get angry when people don’t.” – or words to that effect – I never kept a diary, but those people I know that did, say that they used to share their most intimate secrets with it. They shared their deepest desires, the things they feared most, and divulged their deepest fantasies, all in the knowledge that they would be kept safe in their diary. But what of blogging? When you know that anyone, ANYONE, can read what you share, are you equally as open; are you completely honest?
Every year I set goals and make resolutions but I am yet to achieve a single one of them, so this year I am staying resolution free. I am not making a single promise to myself, I am not declaring an intent to achieve anything because the one thing I am certain of is that I will not achieve it. My mindset is rubbish, I cannot think clearly, and I am quite frankly too weak of character that the moment life gets hard or throws a curve ball, I give up. I am already convinced that failure is inevitable, but when it does all go wrong somehow it feels bitterly worse because I usually hope that it might be the occasion where everything does turn out alright. It’s a vicious psychological cycle that I quite frankly never want to ride again, so I am simply going to avoid it completely.
It’s the 23rd of December so you should either be rushing out either to buy your last minute gifts, first gifts, or for the smug ones among us putting your feet up and relaxing because you were sorted for Christmas in May. Just for you though, I’ve decided to list some of my top tips for wrapping presents. Yes this is a Christmas post, but the same principles can be applied to birthdays too.
One of the joys of parenting is the car ride. A nerve-wracking affair, especially if you have 2 or more children, in which fights will inevitably ensue as the cramped and claustrophobic space suddenly becomes a battleground. On one side you have the superpower known as “the parent” occupying a piece of land characterised by freedom, space, cup holders and the crucially important information of how long the journey will take and where the vehicle is going.
Stress, we all have it but some of us can handle it and deal with it so much better than others. I’ve noticed that I’ve succumbed to stress a lot more frequently and significantly worse than ever before. It’s not because life has changed, all those factors that cause stress remain the same: kids, money, marriage; life is still hard, it’s just me that’s changed. In my completely unqualified opinion, stress is very much self induced; two different people can can experience exactly the same environmental influences and react completely differently. Mindset is one thing that can help with mitigating the impact of stress: how do you perceive what is happening to you? Do you always focus on the negative, do you always panic about the things that are out of your control, are always convinced the worst possible outcome is the most likely? If you do, then a change of mindset will go a long way to resolve the majority of your stress problems, but this is so much easier said than done. How do you change a mindset that you’ve had for so long overnight? It’s not possible. Or is it?
A marriage should be seen as a relationship based on love, concern and respect that allows individuals to grow in their respective ways. It is the maturing of love, freely given and gladly returned, and is both ordinary and extraordinary because it is a relationship based on love, respect and a determination on the part of both husband and wife to adjust to each other’s temperaments and conditions, in health or sickness, joy or sadness, ease or hardship. Can you honestly say your marriage lives up to this standard? I’m not sure I can anymore.
When did manners disappear from our culture? Something quite small has been bothering me for a little while, but for me it’s actually quite significant. I’ve already talked about my time running up the Gherkin as part of my Gherkin Challenge, but I didn’t mention that when I was there something took me by surprise that bothered me more than it should have. Are manners important to you? It appears that please and thank you are disappearing from our children’s vocabulary, and it appears their parents are no different.
Being a parent blogger I am often exposed to the motherly anecdotes of unfortunate leakages. A misplaced cough here, an ill timed sneeze there, and don’t even mention the trampolining! I even sat through a BritMums key note speech by Carol Smillie filled with an evolving tale of how her expanding business in protective pants grew from period spillage to urinary ‘leakages’. But what of the male pelvic floor?
For me, the beginning of a new job brings with it the realisation that I am now outside of Army harmony guidelines. Individuals should not exceed 415 days of separated service in any period of 30 months. My last tour was in 2012, which means as I start my new job the chance of me being told to go abroad is that much greater.
On the whole a soldier’s day-to-day routine is actually quite simple. Within the circles that I have moved, the working day is mostly 8-5, sports afternoons on Wednesdays, and an early finish on Fridays; all in an attempt to maintain some degree of work life balance. Others, of course find themselves regularly on training exercises or working demanding hours, but on the whole the Army is a regular working environment. This does come with a caveat: at any given time, as individual augmentees, we can be mobilised and asked to be on an aeroplane going to different climes within 24 hours to 30 days notice. This degree of uncertainty is exhausting, and I have apologised to my family many times for putting them through it.
A survey conducted by Diet Chef in 2014 says that one quarter of men are so self conscious about their appearance they prefer to have sex with the light off. Now after 2 kids and almost 8 years of marriage, any sex would be appreciated whether the light’s on, off, or strobe lighting. I couldn’t care less, I’d take it any way I can get it (within the boundaries of British law and marriage vows of course). As I’ve gotten older, and rounder, and my recovery time from sport and fitness now means I generally workout on a 1 day on 364 days off programme, my interest in my appearance could do with a boost. As my hair has thinned, and my belly thickened, the comfy tracksuit bottoms and baggy sweater has become a staple in my daily fashion wear; but there was a time when looking good was my number one priority. I looked like a young David Boreanaz and I spent a fortune on hair and beauty products to keep it that way.
As I approach my 35th birthday, I wonder if I’m too old before my time or whether it’s just family life that has knocked the bothered out of me. The average 30-something has admitted to spending over £100 per month on expensive eye creams, luxury moisturisers and trips to the spa, which is three times as much as a standard gym membership. This seems like a ridiculous amount of money to be spending on toiletries, but I remember spending much more than this in my early twenties. It has got me thinking though. How does my toiletry stock compare to yours? Am I the average 30 something year old, or am I actually using more than I thought? Have a think about what you have in your bathroom, bedroom, and man bag and let me know how your stockpile compares to mine.
I met my wife on 1 Oct 2005. Since then, she hasn’t taken a single holiday. That’s right, almost 10 years without a holiday. Imagine how that must feel? I kind of know, because I haven’t taken one in the same amount of time, unless you’re willing to count the year I lived in Spain working, or the 14 months I’ve spent in Afghanistan, or the seemingly endless number of weeks I’ve taken away from my kids; my wife calls them all holidays, even if I don’t. Add to that, my daughter was born almost 7 years ago and in that time my wife has spent a total of 4 nights away from her. That’s it, 4 nights. Needless to say, this week that she is spending in Turkey with her bingo buddies, is thoroughly deserved. As a result I, for the first time in almost 7 years, find myself parenting solo. Here are a few things I’ve learned so far.
I read a post by Tim from Slouching towards Thatcham where he describes himself as two sides of the same coin; on his blog he appears confident, self assured, and can express himself clearly and concisely but if you met him in person he says you would consider him really quite introverted. I could really see a lot of myself in this. If you asked many of the people I’ve met over the years if they thought I was confident, I think all would say yes some would say overly so. In reality, I appear confident because it’s the role I have to play.
I’ve made a fair few mistakes in my short 6 and a bit years as a parent, and I’ve got hundreds more mistakes to make, but here are some of the funniest, shocking, and downright wrong parenting fails that I’ve seen on the internet. Some of them may have been staged, some may be fake, there may be a story behind them, but they all made me react.
I work in a multi-national environment, but sat beside me every day is a chap from Virginia USA. We have back and forth banter about our nations and conventions, but some of the things he said to me today really took me by surprise. They were all children books that are common place in America, and until today I hadn’t realised, available in the UK also but had some really disturbing themes.
#MySundayPhoto this week is a testament to the weekend and the creativity of my children. Whilst one was happy drowning in the colourful moving images of CBeebies and immersing himself in the multitude of applications available on the iTunes store, the other wanted nothing but to spend time with her daddy making origami animals and creating her very own Lego Land. There were instructions, but did we use them? Well, yes, just a little bit but only because years of TV have ruined our creative minds.
Here we are at the Colchester Zoo Santa’s grotto. It was achingly painful queuing up for just over an hour to see the big fella, but when we did both of the kids were amazing. This is George’s first real visit to Santa, and he was a champ. He gave him a cuddle spoke to him politely and gave Santa a gentle reminder to bring him some presents please.
At the start of the year I set myself 3 goals that I wanted to achieve by December 31st. The first, completing the press up challenge 2014, went horribly wrong following a wrist injury; the second, not biting my nails or finger skin, went by the wayside with every stressful moment since setting the goal; the third, to weigh 100kg and have 10% body fat, was achieved ahead of schedule but just as quickly as I achieved it I lost it. I am now 96kg with 20% body fat. As I sit back and reflect on these failed goals, I’ve asked myself why I set them in the first place. I was able to justify the press up challenge and I’m really gutted that I missed out on it, but long term wrist problems were not worth risking for the sake of pride. Stopping nail biting was something I didn’t want to do. I actually like it. So like smokers who decide to quit because they feel they should, I eventually failed because I never really wanted to quit in the first place. For the life of me, I couldn’t come up with a reason I had chosen the 2 seemingly arbitrary figures that I had set for body composition and it’s this goal that I want to explore here, because ultimately what difference did it make what I weighed?
As I approach my 1 year milestone, I have to ask myself, “Has it all been worth it?” I haven’t invested a great deal of time into this blog compared with others. One look at this post by www.youbabymemummy.com and you will see the dedication that some bloggers have to the success of their blogs; I spend a tiny fraction of my time on mine because deep down I don’t really want it to grow to a proportion where it becomes unmanageable for me. I work full time in a particularly sensitive job, so don’t really want the type of exposure that comes with having thousands of followers, newspaper articles and headline performances at blogging festivals and the need to invest all of the spare hours that I have maintaining that. I do, however, want some interaction with like minded people who share the same issues I do. So at best I pay it lip service and flirt with it occasionally, without ever going the whole hog.
So here I am in Northwood, having been voluntold to come here for an unknown amount of time up to 6 months, on less money more frustration and forced onto a cross roads of my career. There are a couple of options that I am considering, but I’ll keep my powder dry for now. Needless to say neither one is a step back, one is a significant step up and the other a less significant step sideways. As I’ve mentioned before, I am in a pension trap and will stay with this employer until they sack me, make me redundant or my contract naturally expires, but that does not mean I’m limited to walking the path they forge for me.
Another week spent on “holiday” at home. I took a week off work so that I could be at home for my birthday and now I’m back in Germany reflecting on the week that was.
Going home is always a pleasure to me, I miss my wife and kids so much that going home is always exciting; sometimes the visit does not quite live up to the hype and sometimes it exceeds it. This week was a roller coaster of ups and downs, some emotional lows and some really good times and memories being made.
This post is not about anything specific that has happened today, nor is it me complaining about anything in particular, it’s just a reference to a really shitty state of mind that I’ve been in today. I have been taken back to a time when I first started this blog, a dark time, a depressed time, a disillusioned time.
The post is a brilliant one. It explores the differences in the experiences of racism, racial discrimination and bigotry dependant on the demographic you belong to, and how and when to inform your child on these issues. Several comments elude to the notion that they will teach their children about these issues as and when they experience them, but therein lies the rub; black children are more likely to be exposed to racism more often than their white counterparts. No matter how much of an ignorance bubble we build, racism happens. A black lady that I know, who is married to a white man, has a discriminatory experience roughly twice or there times a month, in my 33 years I am yet to have one. On one occasion, she telephoned a hotel, I won’t name it but it is a well known mid priced hotel chain, and asked if there were any rooms free for her, her husband and her 2 children. Of course, came the reply. When they arrived at the hotel, the husband went to park the car while she and her children went to check in. As soon as the receptionist saw her, suddenly no rooms were available. Her child asked her why no rooms were available when her mummy had phoned up and booked in advance, she had no answer. No answer, that is, until her husband came in and asked reception if there were any family rooms available and suddenly one was. At that point she had her answer. Her children asking her why daddy had managed to get a room but she couldn’t. That was her first experience where she has HAD to discuss racial discrimination with her kids.
Is there a song that sums up how you feel about yourself? For me it’s As Good As I Once Was by Toby Keith. To coin an old quote from a particularly cheesy movie, my ego is writing cheques that my body can’t cash! If I was a T.V. character, I would probably be Friends’ exceptionally dull Bobby, but I like it. You can have your late night partying, you can have your womanising and you can’t most definitely keep your painful, body debilitating hangovers that last for 3 days. I’m an 85 year old trapped in a 33 year old’s body, and I’m comfortable with that.
For as long as I can remember I’ve had an utterly terrible relationship with food. Like the girl who constantly runs back to the bad boy despite knowing he’s no good for her, I am the bloke who keeps going back to processed, unhealthy, rubbish. I know it’s bad for me, I know it doesn’t love me back and I damn well know it will not help me achieve my goals, so why do I keep succumbing to it’s trans-fatty, sugary sweetness!
As you probably know (if you’ve been following me on any of the social media platforms) I’m living in Germany and have recently come back to the UK to complete a course in Health and Safety Management, please keep reading, this isn’t a lesson in risk assessments or bureaucracy. To come back from Germany, I had to take the transport that was provided by work which meant an 11 hour door to door trip each way. 22 hours of travelling, which is really quite mundane and expensive, because the more bored I got the more I spent to alleviate it, a vicious cycle I’m sure you will agree. During the course, on a much needed break, I read the second instalment of Kerry-Ann’s Commuter Diary on her wonderful blog Life As Our Little Family which gave an incredibly accurate list of some of the most annoying people you will come across on your commute. My particular favourites were the Phone User Fuckwit and the Seat Hog Fuckwit. Reading this made me think about my trip and all the observations that I have made and the experiences that I could have done without.
I read a brilliant poem by @nortonmum about mothers being the glue that keeps families together. It’s not the first poem that I’ve read of hers on her blog www.theuncheshirewife.com and I am constantly impressed by how easy she makes it appear to write great poetry. After writing about my decision to stay in the Army and speaking to my daughter over FaceTime for no reason whatsoever 2 lines that rhymed popped into my head. Before you know it I had written a few more lines until I had what resembled an extremely amateurish poem. (by poem I mean a lot of words where every other line rhymes, I didn’t realise that there were so many words that could rhyme with say or way!) Well, after writing it and a few tears, I thought I would put it here.
Whenever I look into her eyes, I just melt and I want to wrap her in my arms and never let go and I get an overwhelming sense of love. When I look into the eyes of my son, I get the same feeling of love, but there’s excitement too. I am eager to show him the world and what it has to offer, to let him go on adventures and be a better wiser man for it, but in the same breath I want to protect my daughter from it. I am scared of letting her go and I’m hoping that I’m not alone in feeling this fear and as my daughter gets older I need to start fighting my instincts to protect her all the time. I just hope that when she does get hurt, I can find the right words to console her and when she doesn’t need words, I hope that I can just be there for her.
After 8 weeks away, I finally get to spend some time with my family. I have just returned to Germany having spent a wonderful week with my wife and kids in our new home in England. It’s been a funny old week, and one thing I tried to cut back on was social media and by proxy blogging. As a result it feels like I have so much to say, but what I have to say does not warrant separate posts, so instead I’m gonna collate them all here into this one single post of my week by theme.
It’s been some weeks now since my family moved back to the UK whilst I see out my contract working in Germany having moved into a block of rooms similar to that of a Premier Inn, Holiday Inn or other such budget hotel. I had a George Foreman grill, but having set the fire alarm off twice by using it, I binned it. As a result, the large fridge freezer was only being used to hold microwave meals and cans of diet coke, both of which I’m finding I can’t afford in the current climate, particularly when I can have a 2 course lunch and a 3 course dinner cooked for me, with no washing up, for the combined cost of €4.18. The problem is, having been unable to afford supplementation, or bulk loads of meat and now with no-where to store or cook it, I have noticed a dramatic affect on my body. Now, by being frugal with my money and being forced to seek alternatives to home cooked meals, I am left eating whatever the catering contractor deems is suitable for me, with absolutely no knowledge of what is going into my meals. The results have been horrible, particularly for someone with my goals.
I’m a little bit of a deep thinker. Sometimes I’m guilty of overanalysing things and reading something complex within a simplistic idea. Dreams fascinate me. I know that dreams are a manifestation of our mind continuing to work long after we have gone to sleep and the images are the result of us subconsciously playing with thoughts that linger on our minds. They are also the brain’s way of deciphering the events of the day and coming to terms with your experiences. As I sit here at half past 3 in the morning having woken from what was quite possibly one of the weirdest dreams I have ever had, and while I believe it was just my brain metaphorically dumping its garbage all in one go, I do have some idea of what it all means. Or maybe I’m just making the events fit the facts through the vision of hindsight; none the less I felt compelled to put it down in writing before I forgot it, plus having just had a can of diet coke, and no matter how cold and refreshing it was, I don’t think I’m getting back to sleep so may as well do something to occupy my time.
My beautiful wife Vikki having a breakfast at Café Rouge in Covent Garden having just watched Matilda the night before. Today is our 7th wedding anniversary and I couldn’t be more delighted that this extraordinarily wonderful, beautiful, intelligent, courageous, strong woman had chosen to spend the rest of her life with me. We have our ups and downs, we argue, we fight, and life isn’t always rosy, but the love I feel from and for her runs deep. We are almost complete opposites, yet we fit, we click and we work. In the words of the walrus of love, she is truly my first, my last my everything.
On 7 Sep 2007, Vikki and I got married. We always knew we would get married, from the first moments we shared together and even though the odds (and her family) were against the relationship at first, 7 years and 2 kids later, we are stronger than ever and I think her family like me. We met whilst I was leaving the Army (I rejoined again some time later). The trade I joined didn’t pay to teach you how to drive, so before going into civilian life I decided to enrol on an intensive driving course in Chester. On arrival at the farmhouse where I would be staying for the duration of the course, a young 18 year old girl, wearing far too much make up and big black hair wrapped in a big collared fur gilet answered the door. Despite the makeup and the 4 inch eye lashes, when she smiled a smile so big it showed all of her teeth and her little nose crinkled, I was completely in awe. The other students who had already arrived were heading into the village to get a drink and get to know one another and she invited me to join them. By the end of that night I knew I would love this girl for the rest of my life. Needless to say, 2 kids and plenty of ups and downs later, we are stronger than ever. I love you Vikki, with all of my heart, but here are 7 things that I have learned about marriage along the way.
This is the kids learning about the Dam Busters on the Mohnesee Dam. The kids did really well, there was loads of walking and me trying to make bouncing bombs and big aeroplanes sound exciting. The scenery was gorgeous and I wished I had something better than an iPhone 4 to take photos with. Mind you if I did, I wouldn’t know how to use it. A photography course is desperately needed! #MySundayPhoto
I was at my mistress gym doing an extremely half hearted workout, so I took two minutes to scan who else was in the gym with me. It didn’t take me long to identify almost every stereotype of gym goer that I know, so I thought I would I would share them with you. Bear in mind that all of these people were actually in the gym with me. Do you see yourself in this list, or can you add to it?
In addition to my goals for the year, I have also undertaken the concept of the #fitdadchallenge. It’s not a fad diet plan, or fitness regime, it’s just getting up and doing more in order that I’ve got more energy to spend on my kids. Too many times I’ve got home from work, slumped on the sofa and whilst the kids are excited to see me, I come out with the inevitable, “Not now kids, Daddy just wants to rest a little.” The problem is that this began to become the norm and even at weekends I’d struggle to find the energy to invest in fun time with them. I’d half heartedly indulge in play time fantasy, but I began to notice that the amount of time I could play chase or be a horse or dance along to the Spice Girls got less and less, whilst the time spent on the sofa watching TV got more and more. Enough was enough and I decided to try and make more time for them.
The reason I have written this post, is to admit that I have bottled it! I have conducted the cost/benefit analysis and it makes absolutely no sense to leave the Army. The key factor, though, is that now my wife sees this too. She too had grown tired of the fact that I would always have to put the Army first and then the family a close second. It’s even written into the contract we sign, that the needs of the Army come first and the needs of the service person and their family will come a close second. We agree to be mobile and serve wherever the Army need us to be, dependant on the agenda of the Government at the time. At no point do the families have to sign up to this and many do not realise what their partner is signing up to commit to until it’s too late, kind of like a gym membership. My wife became fed up of the time away, the stories starting with where were you daddy and the lack of certainty over where we would be at any given time, planning by the month rather than the year. But now, after only being able to view the here and now, my wife can see the bigger picture of what continued service means. @dadbloguk writes a great piece on how having a child changed a friend’s outlook on long term financial planning and this forms the basis of why I have decided to stay serving.
I woke this morning at 05:45 having gone to bed at 01:00 (I watched the Froch Groves fight) because my youngest was awake, which then woke my eldest and rather than have my wife deal with it, I got up and saw to them both, until I boiled the kettle for a morning coconut oil and espresso. This woke my wife and rather than just roll over and enjoy the lie in I’d afforded her, she was up at 07:00 and began her normal daily routine. By 11:00 I had been shown 4 photos shared on her Facebook feed of the good deeds of all of her wives’ husbands. The husband who looked after the 4 kids, did all the housework, let his wife lie in until 11:00 and then took a huge fry up to her in bed with a small bouquet of flowers. Dick! The other husband who surprised his wife with 2 tickets to somewhere nice and he had secretly booked a baby sitter to look after the kids. Dick! Why couldn’t these good deeds have just been contained within the household and appreciated on a mutual sense of shared duty level. While I’m sure the husbands didn’t go around bragging about their latest good deed, I am in no doubt they did pass their wives’ media platforms to them shortly after the gift with the gentle encouragement to share with their friends what a great husband they have. Dicks!
Me face timing my kids whilst on a course with work. I am currently working in Germany but my family have moved to England in order for our daughter to start her new school at the beginning of the academic year and I miss them terribly. I will not be going back until January at the earliest, so still have 5 full months apart yet. I really appreciate the development in technology that has allowed me to be able to see my family every day (wifi dependant) despite being hundreds of miles away. It also makes me spare a thought for those who are apart, but don’t have this privilege, those who are separated by distance, through necessity, without the means of staying in touch but remain just as devoted and loving. How must that feel? I know exactly how that feels because it wasn’t too long ago that I was away from the family for 7 months without the ability to communicate save for good old fashioned pen and paper letters, where you had to truly consider your words because you couldn’t just select all, delete and start again. That feeling of anxiousness when the mail is delivered and you eagerly wait to see if your loved one has written back, only to experience a disproportionate sense of disappointment that this week there is nothing for you. So whilst many may criticise the likes of Microsoft and Apple for their ethics in business, that drive to improve technology either to have a competitive edge or for pure profit, I thank you because it means every night I get to say good night to the people who matter most to me, face to face (almost).
This post is probably going to divide opinion. Some will find what I’m about to say shocking, some will criticise me for being so negative, some will tell me to grow up but for some, I might just strike a chord of recognition. Whichever way you lean, please take a deep look at your lives and ask yourself honestly, is there anything that you would change if you could? And if you would, have you ever regretted that you didn’t get it right first time and has it ever crossed your mind what your life would have looked like if you had?
My #MySundayPhoto today is of my daughter Olivia looking all regal in her Elsa costume. Her mother had just straightened her hair for the first time since George was born some two and a half years ago. He has never seen her hair straight before, so when Olivia went up to him while he was sat watching TV and asked what he thought of her hair, she was surprised by his response. He turned looked at her for about half a second and simply said, “Okay.”
Much like a jovial nickname that is designed to be endearing but ends up being quite offensive, I fear for the backlash that this may cause. When it comes to the world of pregnancy, birth and raising children, men are automatically on the back foot as it is, because as Mila rightly points out, we do not carry them for 9 months, indeed, we do not have to squeeze them out of any part of us, but that does not mean we are any less important to the whole process.
For the sake of my children I wish I could relax more. I don’t mean that I need a rest, or a holiday, or even a good night’s sleep. What I mean is, I wish that I could stop being so uptight and let my children enjoy their childhood more. I think my children are happy, but I genuinely believe they could be happier.
They said it couldn’t be done. It’s impossible, don’t even hope to achieve it because you’ll only be disappointed every time. Well, it finally happened after 2 and a bit years since our second child was born, we’ve had a day out completely free from stress or incident. I know I couldn’t believe it too, but it actually happened.
I won a great battle today, it was touch and go, but eventually I came through and won. I wasn’t a great victor, I was ashamedly boastful, but that was in proportion to the extent of my joy at beating my competition. I had prepared well, kept my focus and saw it through. The shameful part of all of this is that the competition was my 2 year old son. Granted it was only a game of snap, but needless to say I killed it!
Compromise is absolutely key to a marriage. You will never find someone who is so absolutely in sync with you that you will not, at some point, have to submit to your partner’s will. But I’m increasingly finding that the only “right” compromise seems to be my compromise.
The definition of compromise involves concessions being made by both parties; however, if one party is always doing the compromising surely that’s a dictatorship. We have differing opinions on the intricacies of raising of our children, but share the same views on the bigger picture issues: discipline, manners, education and our roles as parents for example. Where we often come to conflict are things such as reaction to mess created during meal times, the level of hair neatness prior to school and the kids’ eagerness to assist in absolutely everything we want to do.
I’m very relaxed when it comes to children being children, this doesn’t mean I’m absolutely comfortable with it, but I accept that a 2 year old eating a yoghurt or cereal by himself is going to create some mess; likewise, when they see us washing up or cooking, they really want to get involved and join in by helping us, even though it often ends up in more mess and a much more difficult task than originally perceived, but it is in our reactions to these that make me and my wife clash. I really don’t mind if my 5 year old daughter goes to school with slightly fluffy hair because we have been playing games before she catches her bus, because I don’t think she should be so preconceived with image issues at that age. There will be plenty of opportunity for insecurity later on in her teenage years, but as my wife sees it as a big issue and gets cross at having to redo my daughter’s hair, I feel obliged to say that we cannot play because it will make her mother cross.
There’s nothing worse when you’re in a relationship than seeing those couples who outwardly seem like they have everything. They openly show affection to one another, they seem to know subliminally what the other is thinking, they are always laughing joking, but also strike the right balance of passion and endearment. Quite frankly they make … [Read more…]
When you have kids and one of you decides to stay at home to look after them how exactly do you structure your day without entering into a competitive debate over whose day was worse in order to get the other to look after the kids while you have a break?
Invariably there are two worlds running concurrently. While I am at work, my wife gets our daughter ready for school, makes sure she has a packed lunch, her books and everything she needs for the day, she then cares for our very disruptive 2 year old son, whilst simultaneously doing all the washing, ironing, cleaning etc, but then I’m out at work, the clue is in the name work. I’m not out at easy villa or relax town, I’m at work, where you are judged on your ambition, drive and ability to get things done. Not exactly a relaxed, peaceful environment where you catch up on all the lost sleep because your eldest had a nightmare that she lost her wings after being turned into a fairy!
So why is it then, that when I work through the door, I’m immediately expected to go into parenting mode without even taking a breath. I get the opportunity to take my uniform off, hear how horrible my wife’s day has been then bam! I’m in the living room on my knees acting like a horse and then passing a bus back and forth whilst singing the alphabet and wheels on the bus 32 times. I do it because that’s my second job, I’m a parent with responsibilities and we give and take and compromise in order to make life just tolerable enough.
I fucking hate superlatives. Especially in my marriage. My wife uses them all the time and it really winds me up. But the problem isn’t hers, it is mine.
Greg Anderson said, “The perfect no-stress environment is the grave. When we change our perception we gain control. The stress becomes a challenge, not a threat. When we commit to action, to actually doing something rather than feeling trapped by events, the stress in our life becomes manageable.”
Apologies to all of the die hard fans of Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston, but I’m about to paraphrase and potentially misquote one of your favourite films because today I had a “I want you to want to do the dishes.” moment. Now I’m not naive enough to believe that she actually wants him to want to do the dishes, but she more likely wants him to want to do the dishes for her. Doing something that he and probably everyone else in the world doesn’t want to do for the person you love shows that not only do you appreciate them, but you’re willing to do something you really can’t stand just to please them, so in a sense the man isn’t wanting to do the dishes, he’s wanting to please her. Any women reading this can correct me if I’m way off the mark, I’m trying to understand but struggle significantly.